The well-traveled pass rusher rapidly moved up NFL Draft boards, much like he rapidly moved past offensive linemen to wreak havoc in the backfield during his three-year career. No athlete eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft has seen their stock rise more that this junior, who is still a relative neophyte to the game.
Pierre-Paul concentrated on basketball during his four seasons at Deerfield Beach High.
An injury later in his prep career saw the once 225-poundeer decide to "seek employment" elsewhere. "I was a basketball player until my senior year and then I broke my leg when I jumped and I was like 'I'm gonna play football instead'," Pierre-Paul recalled.
With just one season of football experience under his belt, major college recruiters never dialed his number. He sent out game films to various universities, but none seemed to be interested. His tapes made their way to the College of the Canyons, a junior college in California.
The Canyons' head coach, Garett Tujague, an offensive lineman at Brigham Young when Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Ty Detmer starred for the Cougars, recalls how he came upon those tapes. "He's a freak of nature," Tujague stated in a recent interview. "When one of my assistants first showed me film on him, I watched three plays, and I'm like, 'Are you kidding me?' Some of the things I was able to witness him do first-hand were unreal. You don't get to coach too many kids like that."
One year after hanging up his basketball uniform, there was Pierre-Paul terrorizing junior college quarterbacks. He earned All-American and All-Western State Conference first-team honors at the Canyons in 2007. That season, he registered 49 tackles (42 solos), leading the conference and state junior college ranks with fourteen sacks and 19 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also intercepted a pass, deflected five others and caused two fumbles.
What really stood out during his first collegiate season on the gridiron were his standout performances in the playoffs. Against Saddleback, he registered three sacks, picked off a pass and posted seven solo tackles. The following week, four of his five tackles vs. Bakersfield came behind the line of scrimmage.
After his freshman season, Paul-Pierre left College of the Canyons and ventured to the state of Kansas, enrolling at Fort Scott Community College. The All-American and All-Jayhawk Football Conference selection continued to terrorize the opposing backfields. He delivered 67 tackles (50 solos), 10.5 sacks and 20.5 stops for loss, as he also recovered two fumbles and caused three others.
Pierre-Paul became sort of a legend in the Kansas junior college ranks. In a memorable moment that many Fort Scott fans recall, during a 2008 game vs. Coffeyville at Frary Field, Pierre-Paul was taken to the Mercy Heath Center's Emergency Room by ambulance due to a neck injury sustained while making a tackle. After going through tests and a MRI, he was released and found a ride back to the stadium where he showed the medical paperwork to the coaches and talked his way back into the game. He guided the Greyhounds to a 9-2 record and a victory in the Heart of Texas Bowl.
After receiving nary a nibble from any major colleges coming out of high school, Pierre-Paul was the most coveted down lineman in the junior college class in 2009. He earned a five-star prospect rating from Scout.com and was heavily pursued by such universities as Florida, Miami, Florida State, Kansas State, Arizona and Nebraska and Oklahoma State.
Paul-Pierre eventually decided to enroll at South Florida, but could not report until late in fall camp. When camp opened, he was still back home in Deerfield Beach completing two online elective classes he needed to finish his associate of arts degree.
The defensive end stood in football shape during his absence from August drills and was able to enroll by the beginning of classes on August 24th. The USF coaches spoke to him about the possibility of redshirting, but his performance in practice convinced them to let him suit up and play last fall. He was listed fourth on the depth chart when he first arrived on campus, but would go on to play in all thirteen games, starting seven contests.
Paul-Pierre was named to Pro Football Weekly's All-American first-team in 2009. He added All-Big East Conference honors, as he ranked third in the league with 16.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He added 6.5 sacks, along with 45 hits (27 solos), as he broke up three passes and picked off another for an 18-yard touchdown return.
After playing in the International Bowl vs. Northern Illinois, Paul-Pierre announced that he would forgo his senior season and applied for entry into the 2010 NFL Draft. His sister, Nadia, told ESPN.com that her brother thought "he had nothing to lose'' by leaving school early. Pierre-Paul hinted at his decision on the field shortly after USF's win over Northern Illinois, saying "I did everything I could.''
At the time of Pierre-Paul's announcement, former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt said, "I'm excited for him. He comes from a family that doesn't have much. I'm proud of him for what he has accomplished. I think it's a good decision, I really do. I support Jason in his decision and our entire program supports him and wishes Jason the very best in the next stage of his football career."
"I told Jason that I couldn't be any more excited for him," said USF defensive line coach Kevin Patrick. "Years of hard work have paid off and he's ready to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL. He is a tremendous player and I can't wait to follow him through the draft process and on Sunday afternoons next season."
In three collegiate stops, Pierre-Paul played in 35 games, recording 161 tackles (119 solos) with 31.0 quarterback sacks for minus 180 yards, 56.0 stops for losses totaling 248 yards and thirteen pressures…Caused seven fumbles and recovered three others…Deflected nine passes and intercepted two more for 38 yards in returns…His 16.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in 2009 rank behind George Selvie (31.5 in 2007), Craig Kobel (19.0 in 2003), Kawika Mitchell (19.0 in 2002), Tavares Jurineack (18.0 in 2002) and Greg Walls (18.0 in 2002) on South Florida's season-record list…His 6.5 sacks in 2009 were the most by a Bulls' first-year player in a season since Shawn Hay and Demetrius Woods both recorded eight sacks during the 1997 campaign.
All-American first-team selection by Pro Football Weekly, earning third-team honors from The NFL Draft Report…Consensus All-Big East Conference first-team choice…Earned team Rookie of the Year honors…A late arrival to fall camp, Pierre-Paul was originally going to be red-shirted, but the coaches relented and allowed him to play…The junior moved from fourth on the depth chart at left defensive end to the Bulls' starter vs. Charleston Southern, Florida State, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Miami, Connecticut and Northern Illinois (International Bowl)…Ranked third in the conference and 28th in the nation in tackles for loss (1.27 tpg) and tied for eighth in the Big East in sacks (0.5 spg)…Part of a unit that ranked 19th in the nation in scoring defense (19.77 ppg) and 24th in total defense (321.77 ypg)…Recorded 45 tackles (27 solos) with 6.5 sacks for minus 29 yards, 16.65 stops for losses totaling 53 yards and a team-high seven quarterback pressures…Caused two fumbles, deflected three passes and intercepted another that he returned 18 yards for a touchdown vs. Syracuse…Also blocked a kick in the Connecticut contest.
2009 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Broke onto the national stage in win over Florida State when he had three tackles for loss, one sack, one force fumble and two quarterback pressures to go with four solo tackles... Also had two tackles for loss in the next two games, registering five tackles with an interception, a 2-yard sack and two stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. Syracuse, followed by two stops for minus 6 yards and five hits vs. Cincinnati)...Collected six tackles with two sacks and 2.5 stops for minus 8 yards vs. Rutgers...Posted a 5-yard sack, causing a fumble on the play, as he totaled 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and seven tackles vs. Miami…Had two tackles for loss, one sack for minus 4 yards and four hits (3 solos)in his final collegiate game, a 27-3 triumph over Northern Illinois in the 2010 International Bowl
Earned All-American and All-Jayhawk Football Conference first-team honors, playing for head coach Jeff Sims at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College…Guided the Greyhounds to a 9-2 record and a victory in the Heart of Texas Bowl…Recorded 67 tackles (50 solos), 10.5 sacks for minus 50 yards, 20.5 stops for losses of 78 yards, as he also recovered two fumbles and caused three others…Added five pressures.
In just his second season playing organized football, Pierre-Paul was named All-American and All-Western State Conference first-team, playing football for head coach Garett Tujague at the College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita, Cal.)…Led the California junior college ranks with fourteen sacks for minus 101 yards and had 19.0 stops for losses of 117 yards…Caused two fumbles, recovered another, deflected five passes and picked off another for a 20-yard return.
2008 Season*…In the Coffeyville game, Pierre-Paul was was to the Mercy Heath Center's Emergency Room by ambulance due to a neck injury sustained while making a tackle. After going through tests and a MRI, he was released and found a ride back to the stadium where he showed the medical paperwork to the coaches and talked his way back into the game.
Attended Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School, lettering four times in basketball before playing for head coach Greg Minnis as a senior on the football team…Received a one-star prospect rating from Scout.com…Helped lead the grid team to a 9-3 record as a 225-pound defensive end, earning Class 6A All-District IX consideration.
Interdisciplinary Social Services major…Resides in Deerfield Beach, Florida.